Ten current members of the Dutch women’s gymnastics team have issued a joint statement saying they do not recognise the picture which has been painted in the media about physical abuse within the sport.
‘We sympathise with everyone who has had a negative experience with our sport,’ the statement, published on the women’s social media websites, said.
‘As far as we are concerned, physical and mental flagellation are in the past. Our current team operates in a healthy, top-level sports climate.’
Two of the signatories, Sanne and Lieke Wevers, are daughters of Vincent Wevers, one of the coaches accused of physically and mentally abusing a young gymnast several years ago.
This weekend, gymnast Joy Goedkoop told a television programme she was physically abused by Wevers from the age of seven to 12 during training sessions. ‘It did not happen every day,’ Goedkoop told Studio Sport. ‘But being made to feel small, subjected to anger and being ignored were daily occurrences,’ she said.
Last week the NHD published a major report on physical and mental abuse in the world of gymnastics, based on conversations with 10 athletes aged between 18 and 41, several of whom took part in international competitions.
They spoke about being dragged across the floor, screamed at and forced to climb ropes with bleeding hands in order to win medals.
The paper also published an interview with coach Gerrit Beltman who admitted he had physically abused and belittled young gymnasts during his career and that he was not the only one to behave in this way.